There are lists of good girl names, names like Shirley and Charlotte, associated with squeaky-clean role models. Or choices like Elizabeth and Kate, names that feel classic.
We’ve talked about saints’ names aplenty, and then there are names like Cora and Rosalie that feel old-fashioned, even sweet.
But what about names that actually mean good? In Greek, that means that most of the names would include the element eu – often Latinized to the stylish ev.
At the risk of being the tiniest bit irreverent, today’s Good Friday list is chock full of girls’ names that mean good.
Agatha – She’s from the Greek agathos – good, though some associate her with cousin Agnes, and through her agnus dei – lamb of God. That makes her better than good – it makes Agatha downright holy. There’s a third century martyr called Agatha, too, reinforcing the impression.
Bonaventura – Speaking of saints, the thirteenth century John of Fidanza is better known in English as Saint Bonaventure – good fortune. The medieval theologian is considered a doctor of the church. The -a ending is Italian and still solidly masculine. Ace Ventura is a pet detective. Could Bonaventura be a wildly elaborate name for a daughter? Maybe.
Bonnie – Yes, Bonnie translates to pretty in Scottish. But the Scots borrowed it from the French – bon, good. Suddenly I’m hearing Eartha Kitt singing the French classic “C’est si bon” and Bonnie feels terribly attractive.
Eudora – The first of our Eu- appellations, she immediately brings to mind Southern writer Eudora Welty, she of the Pulitzer Prize and a slew of other honors. In Greek myth, Eudora was one of the rain-bringing daughters of Atlas. The -dora part means gift, as in Theodora or Dorothy.
Eudoxia – She translates to good fame, and has that appealing letter x to her credit, but Doxy means something akin to trollop, making it an unthinkable short form. The similar Eudocia has a slightly different meaning, though the names are sometimes treated as interchangeable. Both have a history of use in ancient days.
Evadne – It isn’t clear which good Evadne refers to, though most agree that her first element refers to something good. She’s worn by a few figures in Greek myth, and has an edgy, current sound. File her somewhere between Chloe and Evelina.
Evangeline – The most popular of the elaborate Ev- names, she translates to good news. While her associations with the word evangelical make her a logical sister for Nevaeh, she seems to be embraced by parents who love her sound more than her possibly religious overtones.
Felicity – Perhaps this seems like a stretch, since Felicity means happiness. But the Latin felicitas translates to good fortune, and so she sneaks onto this list.
Glenda – A modern Welsh invention, glen means pure and da means good. There’s also Gwenda – fair plus good. While Glenda feels impossibly dated at first, could she be part of the next wave of hipster rediscoveries, now that Olive and Opal are mainstream?
Muadhnait – This Irish name translates roughly to little good one, though I’ve heard more complicated explanations, too. I believe the pronunciation is something like moo nit or moon it, with a slight emphasis on the first syllable – explaining why Muadhnait is often Anglicized as Mona.
Sushila – One of the few non-Western names on this list, I’ve intrigued by Sushila ever since songstress Sarah McLachlan named her firstborn India Ann Sushil. I’ve found conflicting meanings for Sushila, the wife of the Hindu god Krishna, but the one that puts Sushila on this list is good conduct.
Tova – She literally means good in Hebrew. Her sound is either just slightly off trend, or the next logical step from Olivia.
Zuri – Again, I have some doubts about the translation of this Swahili name, but so far I’ve found both beautiful and good listed. In any case, she’s a brief name that feels vibrant, modern, and exotic all at once.
That’s all of the good names for today. Do you worry about meaning, and if you do, how deeply do you delve to make sure that the name’s literal represents traits, qualities, or something else that you admire?